Oxygen Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
Crime News Cold Cases

Dead Woman Found Wearing 'Disco Dress' On Lake Erie Shore In 1980 Identified

More than 40 years after her body was discovered along the shores of Lake Erie, an unidentified woman wearing a "disco-style dress" has been identified as 31-year-old Patricia Greenwood, whom police believe was murdered.

By Christina Coulter
5 Infamous Cold Cases of Murder

Advances in genealogical DNA have given a name to a Jane Doe recovered more than 40 years ago along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio, police announced last week.

Although her body had partially decomposed, Sandusky Police gauged that the corpse found on the beach near Cedar Point Road on March 30, 1980 belonged to a woman between 20 and 30 years of age. 

The five-foot-tall, 120-pound victim was wearing a size 12 "disco-style" dress, according to The Detroit Free Press, but no hair, scars, jewelry or identifying items could be found on her.

RELATED: Two Arrested After Missing Colorado Man’s Body Found In Condo Crawl Space

Last week, the woman was finally identified as 31-year-old Patricia Eleanor Greenwood, and police have reason to believe she was murdered, according to the local publication.

After speaking with one of Greenwood's surviving sisters, investigators believe she may have been a sex worker at the time of her death, according to Law&Crime. Born in 1948, investigators learned, she had lived at addresses throughout Michigan, including Traverse City, Bay City and Saginaw. 

A photo of the disco dress found in Lake Erie

Although they have determined the woman's identity, police don't consider Greenwood's case closed. Now, they hope that anyone who knew her will come forward with information about her life, hoping that it could uncover a lead. 

U.S. Marshals Service agents revived the Sandusky Police Department's investigation "after finding an old teletype from 1980 in another missing person's cold case file," the Free Press reported. 

In 2021, the Porchlight Project, a nonprofit that funds investigative efforts and furthered media coverage in long-cold Ohio cases, offered to foot the bill for renewed DNA testing in the case.  

"I believe that somewhere there is family that has been deceived and led to believe that she did not want them in her life. That is not true. She has been here, waiting for 40 years to be given a name, so that her loved ones can be located and notified," Nic Edwards, True Crime Garage podcast host and Porchlight Project board member said at the time, according to the Free Press.

Police sent skeletal remains from the unidentified woman to Bode Technology, a DNA testing lab in Virginia that specializes in backlogged cases, according to a press release from the nonprofit. There, lab technicians were able to match the Jane Doe's DNA profile with a family that included 12 now-adult children given up for adoption across the state of Michigan.

One of the surviving brothers contacted by detectives was able to identify the "woman in the disco dress" as his sister, Patricia Greenwood. He said he had not had contact with her since around the time the Jane Doe was recovered in 1980. 

Anyone who knew Patricia Greenwood is encouraged to share any details they remember with Sandusky detectives by calling 419-627-5980. 

"Being able to give Patricia Greenwood her name back is the first step in finding the justice that she so deserves," said Edwards in the non-profit's April 6 statement. "Thank you to the brilliant folks at Bode for the wonderful work that they do. Bode continues to impress and their assistances to those in law enforcement is making it more difficult for bad people to get away with bad things."

"The Sandusky Police Department never gave up on this victim even after all of these years," Edwards continued. "Now it is time for the public to come together and provide information about Patricia Greenwood to the detectives. Patricia needs your help."

Read more about: